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TUSD cancels in-person graduation due to ongoing coronavirus concerns

TUSD cancels in-person graduation due to ongoing coronavirus concerns

From the June's Tucson-area coronavirus coverage: Bars, gyms face shutdowns; Tucsonans worried telemedicine might disappear series

Some schools have held various celebrations to honor graduating seniors, including a Cienega High School event in which seniors were driven down the drag strip at Tucson Dragway.

TUSD has canceled plans for an in-person graduation event later this month due to the ongoing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

The Tucson Unified School District’s administration chose to cancel because the Pima County Health Department could not support an in-person graduation at the end of June despite the precautions the district was planning, including requiring masks and limiting the number of guests each student would be permitted, Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo said in a video message.

“Based off of the information that we’ve received and in the interest of public health and the health and safety for all of you — students, your family members and our guests, which will always be our number one priority — we will not be proceeding with a graduation ceremony,” Trujillo said.

The county health department is concerned about the possibility of a spike in coronavirus cases in Tucson around the time the ceremony would have been held, Trujillo said.

Some parents are upset that the graduation has been canceled, saying that since the governor has lifted restrictions, it’s fine, Trujillo said.

“I respect their stance,” he said. “We have a responsibility here with 45,000 students and families in our hands to listen to science and listen to our public and state health officials, and that’s what we’re doing in this particular situation.”

In place of more traditional commencement ceremonies, which were scheduled for June 25, 26 and 27, some TUSD high schools are planning drive-thru graduation ceremonies.

Individual schools also held various types of celebrations to honor graduating seniors. And KOLD News produced televised ceremonies to celebrate the class of 2020. Trujillo said he hopes these events will be some comfort to graduating seniors and their families.

“And that they will serve as a message of our fondness and our pride in you and everything that you’ve accomplished,” he said. “We certainly wish you all the best in your future endeavors and college and career and life.”

Contact reporter Danyelle Khmara at dkhmara@tucson.com.

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